Browser Beatdown?

We’ve heard a lot about the venerable BlackBerry 10 browser since its inception, and a few months ago I took my first dip into alternate/Android browsers here.  Then known as RIM, Torch Mobile was purchased in order to bolster the web capabilities of our favourite handsets. rendered on BB10 browser rendered on BB10 browser

But RIM didn’t just bolster the web capabilities, in fact they set the standard to which others are now measured in speed and compliance. Currently, every other platform is playing catch up… a position that must come as a surprise to those that do not currently enjoy a BlackBerry 10 handset.

With the advent of 10.3.x.x looming on the horizon, not only are there competitors in BlackBerry World, we are now capable of running popular web browsers from the Android platform, notably Opera, Google Chrome, and Firefox.

Just for fun, I thought I’d perform some simple tests available to us all on the internet and post them up here for all to see.

First up is a test I’ve seen referred to on numerous occasions, the HTML5 test. For these tests, I’ve chosen 6 browsers, BB10, Evolution, Simplebrowser, Opera, Chrome Beta, and Firefox. The test is to determine how compliant a particular browser is to the HTML5 standard. It determines the compliance and/or readiness for features within said standard. Here we go…

BB10, Evolution, and Simplebrowser share basic code
BB10, Evolution, and Simplebrowser share basic code



As you can see in the scores above, all three browsers found in BlackBerry World share the important basics in code for HTML5. The difference being that BB10, Evolution, and Simplebrowser have a varying feature set. Now to the Android browsers…

Opera, Chrome, and Firefox
Opera, Chrome, and Firefox

As you can see, Opera, Chrome (Beta), and Firefox lag behind in HTML5 compliance but surprisingly Chrome is only one point behind! Those working on the browser for BB10 need to “kick it up a notch” methinks, as this stat has remained since 10.2.1.x.

That being said, BB10 takes the crown here as expected.

Now onto a different type of test. This particular test was created by some engineers at Facebook (ugh). We shall leave my feelings about that service for a “Grinds My Gears” post another day…

Here is a short explanation for the Ringmark test we’ll use.

Ringmark is a web-based test suite that measures how well a mobile browser supports the capabilities that modern mobile web apps require. Ringmark is an opinionated test suite and the tests are based upon the specifications identified and prioritized by its authors as being important for modern mobile applications. The specifications are arranged into groups of features called ‘rings’, and the higher the ring, the more challenging the tests within it.


This test was a little more fun and interactive…


Again, notice the similarities between the native browsers. The green sections show successful tests, and the grey bits are failures. Here are the Android counterparts for comparison…


Again, Chrome looks to be very good, and I suppose it is, but the telling tale is in the second “ring”. You see, each ring test is more difficult to pass than the previous, which means failing on the lower rings means that you are missing out on the more basic features. One surprise was that while BB10 was building the second ring, I could hear an audible tone in the speaker (the test was for audio multi-track) but it was very low volume. When I test Opera, the sound is LOUD! Made me jump, ha!

Here’s a chart I made to show Facebook Ringmark compliance:


As you can see, the built-in BlackBerry 10 browser is extremely good, and in my opinion (and most others) is best overall and “best in class” from a testing perspective.

That said, there are great things to be said about all of these entrants. One thing I noticed about Evolution as an example, is that you can set the “Browser Identity”. That means that a website will recognize your session as a different browser/platform. One of the systems that I need to access on a daily basis is a PBX platform that only allows IE (Internet Explorer). Choosing that identity within Evolution lets me access that server for the first time without using RDP. Nice.

What do you all think?

Are you currently using different browsers? If so, what are your use cases?

Sound off in the comments!


Dave Matthews here. I'm a phone guy by trade supplying VOIP systems for business and industry. BlackBerry devices, playing PRS guitars in my band, golf, and RC flight are my current passions.